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Archive for Saturday, April 11, 2009

KU benefactor, alumnus dies at 95

Former oil executive lent name to campus icons

April 11, 2009

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A former oil executive and longtime benefactor of Kansas University died Tuesday at the age of 95.

Charles E. Spahr lent his name to the Spahr Engineering Library and the Spahr Engineering Classroom in Eaton Hall.

The former Standard Oil chief executive officer from 1959 to 1977 and resident of Shaker Heights, Ohio, was a longtime trustee of KU Endowment and was the area vice president of the KU Alumni Association.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from KU in 1934. His wife, Mary Jane, attended KU in 1938.

In a speech in 1995, he encouraged engineering students to take on public responsibilities in their careers. “You must be aware of what your government is doing,” Spahr said in a 1995 article in the Lawrence Journal-World. “You must spend time and energy to influence that government.”

Over his lifetime, Spahr and his wife made a number of contributions to KU, including an $8.9 million contribution to the School of Engineering during KU’s KU First fundraising campaign.

They donated $1.5 million for construction of the 230-seat Spahr Auditorium within the Engineering School’s Eaton Hall, and have supported or started several scholarship funds for students and professors.

Stuart R. Bell, dean of the KU School of Engineering, said in a statement that Spahr will be dearly missed.

“He and Janie led by example on so many occasions and in so many ways,” he said. “Not only was he generous with his contributions, he was generous with his time and wisdom. We are genuinely grateful for his involvement, and this institution is better for it.”

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